New England’s Best Blueberry Muffins from Jordan Marsh.
The best blueberry muffins I have ever had were the one’s we would get from the bakery at the Jordan Marsh Department Store in downtown Boston. They were a treat because they were so good and we didn’t have them very often. I grew up in Hudson, New Hampshire so a trip to Boston in those days was a big event, usually coupled with annual back-to-school shopping. Those muffins were big (I mean really big), loaded with juicy blueberries, and the tops were crusted with sparkly sugar. And the Jordan Marsh Blueberry muffin recipe was as closely a guarded secret as the Coca Cola recipe or Colonel Sanders Fried Chicken recipe.
A Special, Secret Muffin Recipe
Evidently Jordan Marsh was as secretive about their recipe as Coca Cola and KFC are about theirs. The Jordan Marsh stores are no longer but in the late 1990’s a writer tracked down the actual baker would had made those muffins and he revealed the recipe and certain tricks to making them. Details like the fact that they used to different types of flour – bread and pastry – to make the muffins. If you can’t find the the specialty flours, I have been told that using all-purpose flour works, as all purpose flour is pretty much a combination of bread and pastry flours. Another unique detail to the Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffin Recipe is the way the ingredients are combined. In a typical muffin recipe the dry ingredients – flour, salt, sugar, baking powder – are combined together just as the wet ingredients – milk, eggs, vanilla, oil of some form – are also combined alone. Then the 2 batches of ingredients, wet and dry, are combined but not over-mixed as this will make muffins tough. In the Jordan Marsh recipe room temperature butter is creamed with the sugar and whipped until light and airy and then the eggs and vanilla are added. The beating continues to make the batter light and airy. Only then are the dry ingredients and milk added in. The Jordan Marsh recipe calls for mashed blueberries to be added to the batter, which gives it moisture and a distinctive light purple tinge to the batter.
A Couple of my own muffin tricks added to the process
I use my KitchenAid stand mixer to make the Jordan Marsh Muffin Recipe. First I use the whisk attachment to beat the room temperature butter to a light and airy texture. Then I gradually add the sugar in 1/4 cup increments while beating at level 3 to keep it airy. Adding the sugar all at once makes the mixture clumpy and takes the air out of it. I do the same thing with the eggs adding them one at a time and beating well in between. I add the vanilla and whisk one last time before changing to the paddle for the rest of the process. When adding the dry ingredients, you do not want to over-mix as this will make the muffins “tough”. I keep my mixer on Speed 1 and add the dry ingredients (1/2 cup at a time) and the milk alternating and mixing just enough to combine. I fold in the mashed blueberries by hand and add the whole blueberries last folding them in gently.Print
Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffin Recipe
The treasured secret recipe for the infamous Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins, a New England tradition.
- 4 tbsp butter
- 4 tbsp shortening
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup bread flour (my personal favorite is King Arthur)
- 1 cup pastry flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2–1/2 cups large fresh blueberries
- 2 tablespoons sugar (for top of muffins)
Preheat oven to 400° and place rack in center of oven.
Spray the inside of a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray. Using vegetable shortening, grease the top of the pan. Place muffin papers in the holes.
In your stand mixer bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light & fluffy; add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape sides then beat on medium for two and a half minutes. This step is important to incorporate air in the batter.
Add vanilla and beat just long enough to combine it into the batter.
Place 1/2 cup of blueberries into a bowl and mash with a potato masher or fork. Set these aside.
In a second bowl, combine all dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, salt.
With mixer on slow speed, gradually add dry ingredients to the creamed butter & sugar along with milk. Do not over-mix as this will make the muffins tough.
Remove bowl from mixer and fold in the mashed blueberries by hand.
Dust the whole blueberries in flour just to lightly coat them. This keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin during baking. Add the whole berries and fold in gently by hand.
Using an ice cream scoop, divide the batter between 10 of the muffin tins. Pile the batter high and sprinkle with granulated sugar on top of unbaked muffins. Bake at 375°F for 25-30 minutes.
Cool in pan. Run a knife around the under the edge of each muffin top after several minutes of cooling to free it from the pan and cool on wire racks.
Muffins may be brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with sugar, if desired.
I suggest using paper muffin liners when making these muffins, as the blueberries make them much more likely to stick to the metal muffin pan. Be sure to spray the top of the muffin pan with cooking spray to make the muffins easier to remove from the pan.